Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson


    Bentley man profiled in new book on Government migrant workers

    15/12/2000 12:03 PM

    The inspirational stories of people working in one of the world’s most diverse workplaces can be found in a new publication called Voices of Diversity.

    Voices of Diversity traces the journeys of 14 migrants now working in Western Australia’s public sector and is a joint project of the Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Interests and the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.

    Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Minister Rob Johnson said Voices of Diversity provided a unique insight into the experiences of migrants in the workplace.

    “Many State public sector employees were born overseas and their contributions highlight the importance of this sector as an equal opportunity employer able to support difference and promote diverse management practices,” Mr Johnson said.

    “Specifically, these authors provide inspiration for dealing with obstacles, relay positive experiences and offer suggestions to new recruits who may find themselves in similar positions.”

    One of the employees, Bentley’s Van Tan Phang, was born in a peaceful village in South Vietnam.

    But his life changed when his parents were forced to move to a provincial town for security during the Communist war.

    There he worked as a teacher and later graduated from university in humanities. However, he was unable to still the tide of what fate had in store.

    “I graduated from Thu Duc Military Training Course and was seconded to Sadec Province until the Communists took over the south, ending my life as I knew it and commencing my new one as a prisoner of war,” Mr Phang said.

    “In January 1986, I drove a small boat carrying my sister, my wife, my son, my sister-in-law and my wife's nephew to Malaysia, everyone was granted refugee status and settled in Australia in 1986.

    “Australian people were very generous in offering me an opportunity to rebuild my life and the right to freedom, which was refused by the people of my own race.

    “I started studying English and was ready to do any jobs to rebuild my life. I worked as a carpenter, a cleaner and a gardener.

    “While doing manual work to earn my living and support my son at school, I tried to improve my English and attended an interpreting course and later worked as an interpreter while still gardening.

    “Recognising that if I did not have an Australian degree, I would not have a ‘ticket’ to enter the mainstream, I decided to do a social work course at Curtin University in 1995.”

    Upon finishing his degree, Mr Phang was employed as a Community Corrections Officer at Mirrabooka Community Based Services

    “The work is very challenging because offenders may have mental problems, drug abuse issues, social and family dysfunctional relationships or problems with domestic violence.”

    Voices of Diversity features the stories of migrant from Canada, China, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Venezuela and Vietnam.

    Copies are available from State Government agency libraries or by calling Public Affairs at the Office of Citizenship and Multicultural Interests on 9426 8690.

    Media contact: Fran Hodge (08) 9215 4800